(Adults, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is a time of preparing for the feast of the light of God coming into the world. The colour for the season is purple.
People often say that Christmas is Jesus' birthday, and Advent is a time to prepare for his birth. But that cannot be quite correct. Jesus has already been born. We cannot prepare for something that has already happened.
In fact, Jesus has lived, died, and is Risen to new life, never to die again. The Plan of God is complete in him. It is finished.
Is it? That cannot be quite correct either.
Is there still sadness, illness, pain? Is there still sin? Is there still death?
We can agree that our world is not yet perfect. The life and love of God does not fill all creation. God is not yet,
all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:28b)
We are not yet all that we can be. God has plans for us to be so much more. We need—all of us, all creation—to be lifted up, out of our darkness and sin, into the light and life of God. We need to be Redeemed.
What will it be like when the life and love of God fills all of creation? Jesus says,
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars and on the earth distress among nations...
People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
“Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory.
This is what it will be like?? Of course everything is shaken when God comes in. God's love transforms them. But why the fear? Do not the angels always say, "Do not be afraid"?
Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
Clearly, Jesus does not want us to fear. People do not stand up and raise their heads when they are afraid. This is what people do when they know that they are good. This is what they do when they know that they are loved. This is what people do when they know that they are about to be lifted up—when they are about to be redeemed.
“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap.
Perhaps this is the reason for fear. When something happens unexpectedly, it can be an unpleasant surprise. It can feel like a trap. That could make people afraid. But Jesus says,
it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth.
If the light and life of God comes upon all people, how can it be unexpected?
How can there be fear if people already know what the Plan of God is?
This can only happen if people forget.
We will not forget. Advent helps us to remember.
We will light the candles on the Advent wreathe, lifted up by the light and life of God.
We will stand up, and praise God for the Plan complete in Jesus our Light.
We will raise our heads, waiting for the life and love of God to fill us, too, from head to toe.
Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!